Writing Retreats and Why I Love Them


Some of you that follow me on Facebook and Instagram would know that last October, I hosted my second writing retreat in Daylesford, Victoria, alongside my friend and fellow author, Lisa Ireland. Like so many things in life that surprise us, the decision to co-host with Lisa came about by total accident. A mutual friend of ours knew that both Lisa and myself were thinking of holding separate retreats in Australia, and believe it or not, we were both thinking of hosting our retreats in Daylesford. For those of you unfamiliar with Daylesford, it’s a popular tourist town, famous for its day spas and mineral springs. It’s a go-to destination for girl’s weekends and couples retreats. It has a lovely relaxing vibe to it, perfect for a retreat. (I also happened to set my novel, The Memories That Make Us in Daylesford, which is how much I love this town, but that’s another story!)

As far as serendipity goes, once our mutual friend  (Tess Woods) suggested (ahem, insisted) Lisa and I talk about our plans to see if we might like to combine efforts and host together, we quickly realised (during our two hour phone conversation) that we had been planning on hosting our retreats at the exact same location. In fact, we’d chosen the exact same house. By the time we hung up the phone, we knew we were going to do this together.

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 Lisa had some great ideas for workshops she could bring to the table and before we knew it we were going to offer a program that offered support to writers not only in terms of craft and technique but also mindset and goals, that balanced our respective knowledge and passions.

We welcomed a group of six writers on retreat, plus special guest author, Sally Hepworth who shared lots of tips with the attending writers. Our writers made lots of progress on their projects. Our writers were challenged, but I think it’s safe to say that everyone went home feeling inspired and more confident than before and it’s hard to describe what an amazing feeling it was to wave goodbye to our ‘students’ knowing we had made a positive difference to their writing lives. (Such a total honour!) 

“Vanessa and Lisa are excellent teachers. They’re also the most involved and encouraging mentors I’ve ever had. The retreat was excellent value because of their boots-and-all attitude, their care, interest and knowledge. I came away feeling like I had a really good chance of completing my novel to a standard worthy of seeking publication.” - Carla Simmons

The other special part of hosting retreats is that I go away feeling inspired. In supporting other writers, and offering encouragement to them, I hear myself speaking words of reassurance. They serve as a reminder to me when I inevitably experience some of the same challenges writers on my retreat do. Not only that, when writers on retreat make progress, I’m reminded of the magic of creative expression. I can’t take credit for all the lightbulb moments and transformation, but being a small part of it gives me a lovely sense of purpose which means I really do have a great job!

Lisa and I are heading back to Daylesford in April from the 15th - 20th for five nights. 

  Daylesford Retreat 2017

Daylesford Retreat 2017

Writers who come on retreat receive personalised feedback on their work as well as a chance to ask as many questions as they like. In the evenings, we usually choose a topic of interest to discuss, whether it’s pitching to agents and/or publishers, or sharing our individual writing journeys. Plus, there’s lots of good food, and wine, and friendships to be made. 

I know that I would have loved the chance to do something like this before I was published, which is just another reason it gives me a lot of joy to offer these retreats. I want writers who come along to my retreats to go home feeling inspired and supported, and more determined than ever to reach whatever goals they set. 

If you’d like to come along in April, we have some spots still available. Or if Tuscany is a dream travel destination for you, and September is better timing, maybe you’d like to join me there. You can find all the info on the retreat website: www.yourbeautifulwritinglife.com

Happy Writing!